Seattle, WA - A 74 to 57 loss to Cal Poly at home is not the way that the Seattle University women's basketball program wanted to begin their second season playing Division I basketball.
The Redhawks seemed scattered, without a plan, and just at a loss for ideas. Such is to be expected when only 70 minutes were played by upperclassmen. The new faces led to an in cohesive squad.
"We played like we had a lot of new kids trying to get chemistry together, and it showed," said Seattle U coach Joan Bonvicini. "So I think I'll take this one, I think it is my responsibility to get these guys ready, and we weren't as ready as we should have been."
Whoever takes responsibility seems irrelevant though. Sure, one game of a season is hardly enough to make sweeping judgments about a team, but at the same time the Redhawks seemed to be facing some obvious holes.
First and foremost: a pure shooter. A player who can put up the kind of numbers they got from Ashley Brown last season. Seattle U shot 24.6 percent on the night compared to Cal Poly's 54.1 percent.
Sure, the obvious counter-argument would be pointing out the standout player from the Redhawks on the night: Salena Dickerson. She managed to put in 21 points, albeit eight of them from the foul line, to go with her 11 rebounds. However, the numbers were most certainly a quiet stat. For large spells of the game she was absent, and the vast majority of her buckets were dribble-drives from the wing.
Only one other player, the sophomore guard Amani Butler, reached double digits in points. Butler scored 10, but went 4-14 from the field.
Point being, Dickerson looked like the only true scoring threat, and it doesn't take a tactical mastermind to expect that other teams can manage that just like Cal Poly did.
Second, the Redhawks desperately need a post player to haul down some boards and play defense. Tatiana Heck, the retuning senior and obvious team leader had an off night at 8 boards and 7 points, but it was probably a good lesson for the team. Relying on Heck to shut down paint play by the opposition is not a winning strategy.
Dickerson explained it best: "Our game plan tonight was to double team in the post, and you know, we did miss some defensive assignments."
Coach Bonvicini attributed this to the spread offense of Cal Poly
"Well part of the reason was is they really spread the court well, so we had a post out guarding a perimeter player," said Bonvicini, who is in her second year at Seattle U.
However, in many instances this was simply not the case. Cal Poly definitely did spread the floor, but they also rammed it down the Redhawks' throat when they felt compelled to.
These are problems that don't have obvious answers, but are most assuredly the kind of issues that an experienced coach like Bonvicini knows how to handle. So beat down aside, the story of the night is probably her willingness to take responsibility for the defeat.
Expect this to be an interesting season for the Redhawks, as they look to potentially outwork and outthink many teams who likely will outsize them. But that will take time to perfect, so success might come in baby steps.